energy efficient space heater

If you live in a colder climate, heating can represent a big chunk of your utility bills. The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) estimates that the average household spends $581 using natural gas, $1,520 using heating oil, $1,338 on propane, and $1,174 using electricity.

Energy efficient space heaters save on heating costs, which is good for your wallet, and on your home’s overall carbon footprint, which is good for the environment.

To help you pick the right one for your home, we’ve reviewed some of the best heaters on the market and created an in-depth buying guide to give you all the information you need.

The top energy efficient space heaters on the market

There are a fair number of different space heaters on the market, using different technologies and different fuels. To give you the widest range of options, we’ve included reviews of as many variations on the energy efficient space heater theme as possible.

1. Our top pick: Dyson AM09 Fan Heater

Dyson already has a fantastic reputation for producing excellent quality products and the AM09 is no exception. 

Using innovative Air Multiplier technology, the AM09 quickly projects hot air into the room and does it with no exposed heating elements.

The AM09 ships with a remote, has a sleep timer, and its intelligent thermostat has multiple settings for different environments. The AM09 actively monitors the room and maintains a consistent temperature without wasting energy.

The space-age design is tall and slim, making it easy to place in a room or store when not in use. If it does happen to get tipped over, the AM09 automatically shuts off.  

When summer does roll around, the AM09 serves double duty as an effective cooling fan.

What we like:

  • Energy efficient – The intelligent thermostat means the AM09 doesn’t waste energy.
  • Versatile – When the weather warms up, the AM09 can be used to keep you cool.
  • Safe – No spinning fan blades and no exposed heating elements means the AM09 is ideal for homes with small children and pets.

What we don’t like:

  • The look – The futuristic design and metallic coloring of the AM09 isn’t going to work for everyone or in every setting.

Compact, energy efficient, and versatile, the Dyson AM09 Fan Heater’s sheer quality and utility make it our top pick for the best energy efficient space heater.

2. Runner-up: Vornado VMH500 Whole Room Metal Heater 

Hot on the heels of the Dyson AM09 is the Vornado VMH500. Like the AM09, the Vornado uses a unique heating system, in this case using a special airflow called Vortex Action to effectively heat an entire room.

The Vornado also comes with an energy-efficient intelligent thermostat that keeps the room temperatures consistent without wasting energy. While the Vornado does have a front fan, its housing stays cool to the touch and it automatically shuts off if it overheats or is tipped over. 

The compact housing of the Vornado features an easy-to-read front-facing digital display, top-mounted push-button button controls, and discreet cord storage at the rear. It also comes with a full five-year warranty. 

What we like:

  • Safety first – The Vornado shuts off automatically if it detects excess heat or is tipped over.
  • Effective heating – Whole Room Vortex Heat Circulation quickly and efficiently heats a room.
  • Easy to use – The push-button controls and front-mounted display makes the Vornado easy to use and easy to monitor. 

What we don’t like:

  • Loud – Several reviews report that the fan on the front of the Vornado can be quite loud.

The Vornado has a lot of the same features and benefits as the AM09, but a far more traditional look to it that might suit some customer’s tastes more than the space-age Dyson.

3. Best budget: Amazon Basics Portable Eco-Smart Space Heater

For those who need a heater on a budget, the Amazon Basics Portable Eco-Smart Space Heater is a great choice. 

This heater makes use of a dual heating system. The combination of a quartz tube and a Positive Temperature Coefficient (PTC) system makes it extremely energy efficient. It also has an eco-mode for additional energy savings.

The heater’s four infrared heating elements have a 750W and 1500W power setting and can heat a 9-foot ceiling room as long as it’s under 1000 square feet. The heater is controlled by an adjustable electronic thermostat and an easy-to-read LED display. For safety reasons, should the heater detect excess heat, it will also automatically shut off. 

Despite being an Amazon Basics model, this heater comes with fetching wood paneling on the outside and is covered by the Amazon Basics 1-year limited warranty.

What we like:

  • The look – Despite being a budget model, the Amazon Basics heater has some very attractive wooden paneling.
  • Dual heating system  – The combination of quartz tube and Positive Temperature Coefficient heating systems makes this model very energy efficient.
  • Eco-mode – For additional energy savings, the Amazon Basics heater comes with an Eco-mode option.

What we don’t like:

  • Not easy to read – While the front-panel controls are easy to use, they are small enough to be hard to read from any sort of distance.

Inexpensive and energy-efficient, the Amazon Basics Portable Eco-Smart Space Heater is a great choice for those on a budget, and it’s aesthetically-pleasing wood veneer is an added bonus.

4. Best infrared: Heat Storm HS-1500-PHX-WIFI Infrared Heater

Overly dramatic name aside, the Heat Storm is an excellent portable infrared heater. With 5200 BTUs of heat output, the Heat Storm is ideal for a smaller room or home office. The temperature is controlled by two power modes: a full 1,500 watt and an energy-saving 750 watt.

Patented heat exchanger technology combines the heat output with the humidity in the room to provide soft, safe heat without reducing oxygen or humidity. The whole unit stays cool to the touch when in use, even the front grill.

Temperature control comes via a front-mounted LED panel that shows the ambient temperature very clearly. 

One of the standout benefits of the Heat Storm is its placement versatility, as it comes with both a wall mounting bracket and removable feet. The whole unit comes with a 1-year manufacturer’s warranty.

What we like:

  • Saying cool – The entire case of the Heat Storm stays completely cool to the touch during use.
  • Easy to read  – The large front-mounted LED panel makes it easy to see what the ambient temperature in the room is.
  • Easy to mount – The heater itself is compact and comes with the options for feet or wall mounting.

What we don’t like:

  • Wifi comes extra – There is a version of the Heat Storm that can be controlled via Wifi, but it’s an added cost and doesn’t come with feet.

Compact, portable, and easy to place in a room, the  Heat Storm’s patented heat exchanger technology makes it very energy efficient.

5. Best oil-filled: De’Longhi Oil-Filled Radiator Space Heater

De’Longhi’s oil-filled space heater features a permanently sealed oil reservoir that never needs refilling. The patented, high-quality steel exterior uses a unique thermal slot design that maximizes heat flow into the room while maintaining a low surface temperature.

The large analog controls on the front make it easy to adjust the thermostat, pick from the variable heat settings, and set the 24-hour programmable timer. There’s also an anti-freeze setting that automatically turns the unit on when the temperature drops below 44℉.

The heater puts out 5120 BTUs of heating power and has an eco-mode that automatically adjusts heat and power settings for the most comfortable and economical warmth. If the unit does start to overheat, the thermal cutoff function kicks in to automatically shut it down.

What we like:

  • Innovative design – The case of the unit uses an innovative thermal slot design to maximize heat without the exterior becoming red hot.
  • Programmable timer – A 24-hour programmable timer means the unit comes on exactly when you want it to. Ideal for pre-heating a room.
  • Powerful – The De’Longhi throws out 1500 watts (5120 BTUs) of power without being overly large or cumbersome.

What we don’t like: 

  • The wheels –  The De’Longhi comes fitted with castors as standard, but some customers might not want their heater to be so mobile, especially in houses with children. 

Economical and well built, the De’Longhi’s design has 25% more radiant surface area because of its unique thermal slot design to help heat rooms faster and more efficiently.

6. Best panel heater: De’Longhi Convection Panel Heater

Slimline and unobtrusive, the De’Longhi Convection Panel Heater uses exclusive HI-FI technology and a double fan system to provide better heat distribution throughout a room. 

Despite being only three inches thick, the unit still puts out 5120 BTUs of heating power, enough to comfortably heat a 300 square feet room. To stay energy-efficient, the ECO function automatically adjusts the heat and power settings to maintain a consistent temperature without wasting heat.

That heating power is controlled through digital controls and an LED display that lets you change the thermostat, timer, and multiple heat settings. The De’Longhi has a number of built-in safety settings, including a thermal cutoff and tip-over sensor for fire safety and anti-freeze setting to help prevent freezing pipes.

What we like:

  • Slimline – The De’Longhi Convection Panel Heater is just three inches thick.
  • The features – This unit is feature-rich, with a thermal cutoff, tip-over sensor, anti-freeze setting, and a programmable timer.
  • Good aesthetics – Slim and matt black, the De’Longhi can fit unobtrusively into any room.

What we don’t like:

  • The display –  The De’Longhi’s LED display is positioned on the side of the unit, which can make it quite hard to view when wall mounted.

If you’re looking for a powerful slimline panel heater with a great range of features and safety precautions, then the De’Longhi Convection Panel Heater might be exactly what you’re looking for.

7. Best wall plugin: Minetom Wall Outlet Electric Space Heater

If you’re looking for a truly portable heater that can be used to heat any space without an electrical outlet, then the diminutive Minetom Wall Outlet Electric Space Heater is a great choice. 

At just 4.3 x 2.8 x 6.5 inches, the Minetom can be plugged-in in even the smallest spaces and can easily be packed in a backpack or carry-on baggage. The plug on the back rotates up to 180 degrees to facilitate placement. 

The digital thermostat allows you to choose from a range between 60°F to 90°F and, despite its small size, the unit can heat up a 100 square feet room. During operation, the outer surface of the Minetom stays cool to the touch.

The front-mounted LED display shows the ambient temperature and the unit has a twelve-hour timer. The fan produces around 44.8 decibels of noise, making it exceptionally quiet.

What we like:

  • Compact – At just 4.3 x 2.8 x 6.5 inches, the Minetom is extremely portable.
  • Programmable timer – The unit has a 12 hours timer, programmable in one-hour intervals. 
  • Quiet – The unit’s fan produces just 44.8 decibels of noise, making it ultra-quiet.

What we don’t like:

  • No thermal cutout –  While it isn’t surprising on such a small model, the lack of a thermal cutout could represent a safety issue for some customers. 

The Minetom Wall Outlet Electric Space Heater is the only heater on this list you could carry around in your pocket. Despite that, the unit can still comfortably heat a 100 square feet room. 

8. Best wall mounted: EconoHome Wall Mount Space Heater Panel

As you might expect from the name, the EconoHome Wall Mount Space Heater Panel is very energy-efficient. It consumes just 0.6 KW/HR., which is less than 1/3 of the electricity than conventional space heaters. This low energy heater could save you as much as 50 percent on your home heating bill. 

Designed to heat rooms up to 200 square feet, the EconoHome has dimensions of 24 x 36 x .40 inches and is made from a superior calcium silicate material to prevent cracking. 

The panel is controlled by a socket-mounted thermostat and comes with a reflector panel to place behind the unit. The unit is triple-insulated for electrical safety and comes with an overheat protection shut-off function. The exterior of the panel can be painted to match your decor.

What we like:

  • Super slimline – The EconoHome is just .40 of an inch thick.
  • Very efficient  – The unit consumes just 0.6 KW/HR to heat rooms up to 200 square feet.
  • Paintable – While it only comes in white, the crack-resistant outer can be painted to match the rest of your house.

What we don’t like:

  • Analog controls – The very simple control scheme uses a thermostat built into the plug and there are very few other features.

If you want the most slimline space heater possible, then the EconoHome is your best choice. It also comes with the benefits of being so efficient that you can save up to 50 percent on your heating bills.

9. Best portable: Dodocool Small Space Heater

Dodocool Small Space Heater is ideal if you need a compact portable heater. The unit provides heat using a ceramic PTC element that starts heating the room in just three seconds. 

As you might expect from a portable heater, the Dodocool has an automatic shut-off if it’s tilted or if the internal temperature reaches more than 50°C (122°F). It also comes with a built-in handle for easy portability. 

The unit produces just 45dB and has a programmable timer that can be set in 1/2/3/6 hour increments. When the weather warms up, you can use the heater as a fan for extra utility.

What we like:

  • Portable – The Dodocool Small Space Heater is 10.59 x 5.87 x 5.59 inches, weighs just 1.9lbs, and comes with a built-in handle.
  • Safe – The unit has built-in tilt protection and a thermal cutoff for extra protection.
  • Quiet – The small fan in the unit produces just 45dB of sound.

What we don’t like: 

  • No thermostat – The Dodocool only has an on/off function and no other temperature controls.

If you need a light, compact, and portable space heater that you can carry with you, then the Dodocool Small Space Heater ticks all those boxes.

10. Best oscillating: TaoTronics PTC Space Heater

If getting a room heated quickly is your priority when purchasing a space heater, then the TaoTronics PTC should definitely be on your radar. The ceramic heating element heats up to  70°F in just three seconds thanks to its 1500 watts of power.

The unit oscillates up to 65 degrees from side to side to increase total heat distribution by as much as 20% without needing to use extra energy. The temperature is controlled by three heating modes, high, low, and Eco for extra efficiency. 

A programmable 12-hour timer means the heater comes on exactly when you need it and can be controlled by the included remote control. 

When Eco mode is active, the heater automatically switches between High (1500W) and Low (900W) modes based on current temperature to save energy.

The unit is also very safe to use, with an ETL certification, overheat protection sensor, a 24-hour auto-off, and a tip-over switch. The outer casing is also made of V-0 flame-retardant material.

What we like:

  • Quick to heat – Thanks to 1500 watts of power, the unit reached heats of 70°F in just three seconds.
  • Extra safe – The unit is ETL certified and has both overheating protection and a tip-over sensor.
  • Efficient design- The oscillating design distributes 20% more heat without using extra energy. 

What we don’t like:

  • Limited placement options – In order to take full advantage of the extra oscillation, the heater needs to be placed where it isn’t blocked. 

The TaoTronics PTC Space Heater is a great choice if you want a heater that can heat a room quickly and efficiently and you can rely on to safely operate unsupervised.

How to pick the best space heater for your needs

Now that we’ve run through some of the best space heaters out there, we’ll take a deeper dive into what sets the different heating technologies apart and what functions you should look for.

Different types of space heaters

As you might have seen from the reviews above, there are different types of heating technology. Before you can pick between them, you’ll need to know how they work.

Infrared heaters

Infrared space heater

Infrared heaters emit directed infrared radiation. When that radiation makes contact with an object, it causes it to grow warm. This means infrared heaters are best used to provide direction or spot heating, by aiming them at a specific object.

These kinds of heaters are often used in work settings or garages, rather than in homes. While the heat does quickly diminish once the heater is turned off, infrared heaters are more energy-efficient as they emit 100 percent of the heat they produce, with little to no heat lost in the transfer.

Oil-filled heaters

Oil-filled space heater
Source: Wikimedia / Ashley Pomeroy

Oil-filled heaters look like traditional water-filled radiators and use much the same system to produce heat. The internal oil reservoir is heated in an oxygen-free container, so it won’t ignite. The heated oil then radiates heat through the metal, heating the room.

Once the oil is hot, it stays hot for an extended period. This means oil-filled heaters don’t need to be permanently on in order to produce heat. Oil-filled heaters with a thermostat only use power to initially heat the oil and then shut off until the oil falls below a certain temperature, making them very efficient. 

The downside of oil-filled heaters is that they don’t project heat very well, making them better suited for smaller rooms. 

Ceramic heaters

ceramic space heater
Source: Wikimedia / Benchill

Ceramic heaters work by passing a current through a ceramic heating element, which is durable enough to reach a very high temperature. The heat radiated by the ceramic element is then distributed around the room by a fan. 

The vast majority of space heaters are ceramic heaters because they are simple to use, heat up fast, and are energy-efficient.

Convection heaters

Convection heaters operate by drawing air through the unit from underneath. The air then passes over a heating element and rises out through the top of the unit back into the room as warmed air. 

Compared to radiated heat, as you might get from a ceramic or oil-filled radiator, convection heaters distribute heat more evenly and don’t suck as much moisture out of the air. However, they are often slower to heat a room than other types of heaters.

How to use your space heater safely and efficiently

While many space heaters are very energy-efficient, and therefore environmentally friendly, there are some extra steps you can take to get the best out of them:

Turn down central heating before use

If you’re using your space heater to spot heat in a certain area, turn down your central heating system before use. Not only will having two heating systems running in the same room be inefficient, but it will also be hard to get a consistent temperature. 

Heat only one room at a time, when a boost is needed

One of the most efficient ways to use a space heater is to deploy it in a room you expect to stay in for a long period of time and then turn off your central heating. This could be a garage, man-cave, rec room, or home office.

Heating one room is always going to be more efficient than heating your entire house. With radiant heaters, especially oil-filled heaters, the heater doesn’t always need to be on in order to produce heat, making it even more efficient. 

Use your space heater at a low temperature

The vast majority of space heaters will have a low-temperature setting, something around the 750-watt mark. In a smaller space, this setting is more than enough to quickly provide heat. Keeping your space heater at this lower setting optimizes how much energy you are using.

Choose a model with safety and efficiency features

As with any heating system, you’ll want to prioritize units with advanced safety features. These include tip-over sensors that shut the unit off when it falls over and thermal cutouts that shut it off if it overheats. 

Many models will also have features that improve their energy-efficiency. These include eco-modes, intelligent thermostats, and active temperature controls. These systems reduce the amount of heat and energy wasted by the unity to make it more efficient and therefore more environmentally friendly. 

Some WiFi-connected devices also allow you to monitor you heater’s energy consumption and heat output. This data lets you optimize when you use your heater to the best effect. 

FAQ

To make sure you’ve got all the information you need, we’ve put together answers to some of the most common questions about space heaters, and their efficiency. 

What is the most efficient type of space heater?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer to this question. How efficient a heater is varies between models and depends on the circumstances in which it’s being used. Electric heaters are all considered to be 100% efficient because they turn all the electricity they draw into heat.

Additional features such as eco-modes can make a heater more energy-efficient. Oil-filled radiators have the lowest cost per kilowatt-hour on our list, but that’s only one part of the equation.

Ultimately, all heaters will be more efficient if used efficiently by taking into account the tips we’ve outlined above.

Are space heaters safe?

Any heating system comes with an element of risk. However, space heaters are far less risky than any kind of open flame. The risk created by having a space heater can be mitigated by using it responsibly:

  • Place your heater at least three feet away from flammable objects such as curtains, furniture, or bedding.
  • Don’t set your heater up on top of furniture or cover it with anything.
  • Be mindful of high-traffic areas and always lay your power cable so it can’t be tripped over or easily knocked loose.
  • As with all electrical appliances, don’t let your space heater come in contact with water, and never touch an electric heater if you’re wet.
  • Don’t leave your space heater unattended for long periods or leave it on if you fall asleep.
  • Always unplug a space heater when you’ve finished using it.

Where should I put my space heater?

Space heaters work best when heating a small space. Most of the heaters on our list are designed to heat areas between 100 and 200 square feet. You’ll get the best use out of your space heater if you don’t try and use it to heat a huge space.

In terms of exact placement, make sure your heater is at least three feet away from flammable objects and isn’t pointed directly at anything you don’t want to fade over time. 

  • Radiant heaters can be placed anywhere in a room.
  • Convection heaters need more air circulation to work properly.
  • Infrared heaters need to be pointed directly at whatever you want to stay warm, including yourself.

Is it OK to leave a space heater on all night?

As a rule, no. You shouldn’t leave any form of heater on without supervision. However, if a space heater is your only source of heat in truly cold weather then you can mitigate the risk somewhat by buying a model with a thermal cutoff, tilt sensor, and a programmable timer.

The thermal cutoff and tilt sensor will keep you safer while the programmable timer means you can set your heater to come on at intervals, rather than running continuously.

Do space heaters use a lot of electricity?

A 1500 watt space heater uses around $100 of electricity per month if it’s running 8-hours a day. making them quite an energy-intensive solution to run continuously. However, it should be noted that space heaters aren’t designed to be permanent heating systems. 

They work best used in short bursts to heat smaller spaces instead of heating a whole house using central heating. Under these circumstances, using a space heater is the more economical solution.

The best energy efficient space heater

A space heater is an excellent and energy-efficient way to warm a space that either doesn’t have heating, or instead of heating an entire house to keep one room warm.

We’re particularly fond of the Dyson AM09 because of its range of features, incredible energy efficiency, and great build quality. However, we’ve listed multiple other options that might better suit your personal circumstances.

If you’ve got a heater you love and think should have made this list, or any tips on how to use a space heater as efficiently as possible, we’d love you to let us know in the comments below!

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